Mike Ditka continues to bang the drum for retired players

By Michael David Smith – Pro Football Talk  posted June 4, 2011

Mike Ditka, the Hall of Fame tight end and former Bears and Saints head coach, has become one of the most vocal supporters of helping out retired players who have physical and financial problems, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The 71-year-old Ditka appeared on Friday at an event for the Michigan chapter of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, and he said that he’s trying to fight the mindset that NFL players made enough money during their careers and shouldn’t need any more assistance in retirement.

“I made $12,000 my first year,” Ditka said, per the Detroit Free Press. “You figure it out. Some of them didn’t end up in a good situation. Some of them took their pension early.”

Among the former players who attended the event was Desmond Howard, who said he’s concerned about health benefits from former players from Ditka’s era.

“You really want the retired players to get better health care, better pensions,” Howard said. “These are the people who paved the way for the younger guys who are playing and actually benefiting from what the older guys accomplished. . . . All the reports now coming out from the long-term effects of things like concussions lets you know that we need better health coverage.”

Representatives of both labor and management have said during the lockout that they’re committed to taking care of retired players. Whenever the lockout gets resolved, we’ll see if the resolution contains any concrete actions to support retired players, or whether both sides have just paid lip service to the needs of the players of the past.

 

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About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on June 5, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. JOHN KOMPARA

    AS A PRE 59 ER I HAVE HEARD ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE NOW BEING SAID BEFORE. I DON’T KNOW WHAT OR WHO TO BELIEVE. AS TO THE NEW OR YOUNGER PLAYERS CONCERNS FOR US OLDER PLAYERS IT SEEMS THE SAME OLD STORY AND IT WILL NOT CHANGE UNTIL SOME OLDER PLAYERS TALK TO SOME OF THE PRESENT PLAYERS SO THEY UNDERSTAND THAT THEY TO WILL BE OLDER PLAYERS IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

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